Fashola Calls for Increased Infrastructure Funding for Sustainable Economic Recovery

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By Goddy Egene

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde  Fashola has advocated the raising of  funds from the Nigerian capital to finance  the  critical infrastructure  for the country’s economy recovery to be  sustained.

He  said  infrastructure such as  roads, airports, seaports, health, railway among other require increased spending just as he said   the diversification of income base with more focus on agriculture and mining should be  another priority for the  federal government.

Speaking at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE)-London Stock Exchange (LSE) Dual Listing Conference held in Lagos last Friday, Fashola said    there was nothing wrong with borrowing provided the funds are put to productive use.

  The minister said there was the need to reduce  the importation of goods and services that could be produced locally, noting that would boost the country’s foreign reserve and increase national savings.

 Fashola said:  “We are living on infrastructure that was used after the civil war and our population has grown many folds. For me, these are the seeds of the ailment that afflicted us that led us to recession, the oil price disappeared, the oil income disappeared and everything went with it.  How do we get back, increased capital spending, it has worked in China. Spend on critical infrastructure, roads, bridges, power, rail, ports to enable businesses compete very effectively and competitively, diversify an economy like Nigeria that has the potential to earn income from other sources that have relatively gone into obscurity, agric, mining and also the income base from oil and reduce import of the things you can produce, so as to save money. These are the prescription for recovery.”

He explained that between 2016 and 2017 government increased capital expenditure,  increased spending on roads, on rail and on airports, at the time that it  is earning less from oil.

“It seems to me that the right prescriptions are being applied to the economy, there is increased commitment to agric and mining and there are relatively better fiscal controls and increased revenue sources from taxes,” he said.

 Fashola, however, called on the private sector to work with the government to ensure delivery of amenities that would drive development and employment through public private partnership.

Also, speaking at the event, Senior Fellow, Lagos Business School, Pan Atlantic University, Dr.  Doyin Salami said that domestic economy remained in recovery mood, noting that the economic outlook would be driven by oil price, outcome of the 2019 elections and economic policies.

He said the bearish trend in the stock market stemmed from sell off by foreign portfolio investors.

According to him, foreign portfolio investors would slow down their participation in the market in view of the coming general elections.

He, however, said that Nigerian was known for credible and transparent elections, assuring that 2019 would not be an exception.